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Expert Advice

31 month old: Growing your family? Here's how to prepare your toddler for a new baby

Life's about to get busy!

Around this time, you may be ready to pop with baby number two (the average age gap between kids being 34 months) so your toddler will have to face the fact that there'll soon be some new, cute, super high-maintenance competition in their house.
This age gap unfortunately coincides with toddler tantrum time, so it can certainly be a trying combination with a newborn in the mix.
Sibling rivalry, in one form or another, is inevitable. In older children, it can take the form of arguing, pushing and even fighting - anything to get back at the little one breaking their toys or stealing your attention.
For toddlers, who are less able to understand their feelings of jealousy or what to do about this annoying little newborn, misbehaviour and regression is common. One tactic is to agree with them that yes, that baby can be a nuisance sometimes!
Toddler regression can take the form of losing their toilet training, trying to sit in the baby's seat, asking to breastfeed and pinching baby - even getting in trouble is better than feeling ignored.
Feelings of jealousy are normal for toddlers when there's a baby on the way. (Image: Getty Images)

5 tips for preparing your toddler for a new baby

  • Talk about it to them as soon as the news is public so they can get excited about the growing bump and baby to come. Read stories about new baby arrivals. Let them feel baby kicking and talk to your bump.
  • Explain how any routines (like who drops them at day care) will change once bub arrives. Tell them often how much you love them, especially after the birth.
  • Let them be involved with the prep and invite them to make small decisions (that you don't mind about) such as what colour teddy baby would like.
  • Mindfully make 'special time' with your toddler when baby is sleeping and also involve them as much as is safely possible with caring for bubs.
  • Warn friends to treat your toddler the same, taking the time to talk to them before they look at the baby.
WATCH: Jenna Dewan Tatum and James Corden take a dance lesson from toddlers and it's freaking adorable. Continues after video ...

Sleep time changes

Another milestone that may take place around this time is the move into a 'big bed'.
If there is a new baby on the way, make this change at least a few weeks before it arrives so they don't associate any negative experience (fear of the bigger bed or new room) with the baby itself. Encourage them to proudly embrace the bed as theirs, so the cot can just become 'some old cot' and something that only babies use.
The transition will likely lead to adjustments in sleep patterns and even their bedtime routine.
You may find they are waking earlier in their new environment, so use these tips to get your toddler to sleep in. Then again, their newfound ability to get out of their bed more easily and growing independence could lead to classic sleep-time resistance.
READ MORE: How to put a toddler to bed in 100 easy steps for a humorous take on this.

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